“Saint-Chinian, Château La Dournie 2018” is out of stock.

View original product description

This is a carousel with zoom. Use the thumbnails to navigate, or jump to a slide. Use the zoom button to zoom into a image.

Out of stock

Saint-Chinian, Château La Dournie 2018

Red Wine from France - Languedoc - Roussillon
Generously flavoured, full-bodied, spice-laden Languedoc red with plenty of character. Deeply coloured and brimming with dark, slightly smoky fruit flavours.
Out of stock
Code: FC41091

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Garnacha/Syrah/Carignan
  • 13.5% Alcohol
  • No oak influence
  • Now to 2024
  • 75cl
  • Cork, diam
Play Video
Buyer Marcel Orford-Williams introduces his pick of red wines from the Languedoc region. Video transcript

Video transcript

Languedoc Introduction

Good afternoon, I’m Marce of The Wine Society, and I’d like to talk about the Languedoc, and in general I’d like to talk about six major appellations of the Languedoc. Now, these are some of the oldest vineyards in France. They go back well over 2,000 years. As we all know, the Romans loved planting on the hillsides and they found ideal hillsides in southern France. And I’ve chosen six wines to represent the Languedoc, and what I’ll try and do is actually explain how the vineyard sites actually make a difference tot the wine and why the wines taste the way they do. The great thing about Languedoc wines is, one, they’re very good value for money. They’re also very good food wines. The people in the south of France take their food very seriously and they have the perfect wines to match.

Pic Saint-Loup

My key wines start with Pic Saint-Loup, which is one of the most most recent of the new appellations in the Languedoc. Now, Pic Saint-Loup is to the east of the region and it’s the closest one to the Rhône Valley, and I would suggest that Pic Saint-Loup is slightly more Rhône-like. In terms of geology Pic Saint-Loup is mostly sort of mostly chalky, sort of limestone. The key thing about Pic Saint-Loup is that you have cool breezes coming from the north and north-west and its very close to Montpellier, but there’s a huge difference in temperature between Montpellier and Pic Saint-Loup, in the summer, especially at night, Montpellier bakes, it’s hot, this is about 8, 9, 10 degrees cooler. The main grape variety here is syrah and syrah does really well. So, this is more Rhône-like which means it’s sort of slightly softer, slightly rounder, slightly sunnier. It’s a lovely sort of lovely open fruity smell. It’s a wine that’s really popular with university professors in Montpellier and has a huge following there and a huge following in Paris too, and it’s doing pretty well at The Wine Society. Pic Saint-Loup.

Faugères

Wine number two comes from Faugères. Now, from Pic Saint-Loup this is over the hills and far away, over quite a few hills in fact. Faugères is distinctly hilly, and geologically this is quite different to anywhere else in the Languedoc, because here the soils are of schist, or schist and a kind of slightly more advanced version of slate, and it produces wines that are distinctly spicy in character. There are different styles, but the styles are to do with grape varieties and the way the wines are aged. Here you have a lot of carignan and this is not aged for keeping particularly, this is aged to be drunk very, very quickly as a young wine. But Faugères is a serious wine and can keep. When I said, when I talked about geology and about schist remember that Côte-Rôtie is on exactly the same kind of soil, and I’d suggest that Faugères can actually be almost as good as a Côte-Rôtie, and very, very good value for money. So, this comes from a good grower, Domaine Saint-Antonin, and he makes a fantastic easy-drinking Faugères, carignan with some grenache. Lovely wine, and spicy. So, spicy means it goes even better with food.

Saint-Chinian

Next to Faugères as you go west you come to another appellation, a bigger one this time, called Saint-Chinian. And Saint-Chinian exists in different styles and with different geologies. The eastern part of Saint-Chinian is actually quite similar to Faugères, it’s on schist, but as you go west the soil changes to limestone, which is more or less, this is a bit of both. This comes from Château La Dournie to the sort of north-west of Saint-Chinian, very close to Saint-Chinian itself, and Saint-Chinian again is quite a hilly kind of place, makes big powerful generous wines, and I think of it in terms of the Rhône. Saint-Chinian to me is a little bit Gigondas-like, so quite big and full, very generous. Grape variety-wise a lot of syrah again, some carignan, some grenache, rich full-flavoured wines. Absolutely super.

Minervois, Château Sainte-Eulalie

Moving on from Saint-Chinian going west you come to an appellation called Minervois, which is probably one of the best known, and of course its name itself suggests Roman involvement. The village of Minerve needs to be visited, it’s absolutely fantastic. Anyway, Minervois. There are three styles of Minervois. There’s an eastern style of Minervois which is a bit like Saint-Chinian, and there’s very much a western style, which where the Atlantic plays a part in defining the climate and the wines are fruitier and lighter. And then there’s a middle style, which is this one, Château Sainte-Eulalie, where the climate is dominated by the Black Mountains from the north. Winters are cold and there’s very little rainfall, it’s arid, and the wines are arid, they’re slightly austere I always find. So, this is Minervois. Carignan is a grape variety that does really well in conditions where there’s not too much rain. It survives drought extremely well, and so in a place like Minervois that’s really good because rainfall here is minimal. So, this is Minervois Château Sainte-Eulalie, produced by a couple called Coustal, Mister and Madame Coustal, who originally came from Bordeaux, and they make absolutely fantastic wine and we do practically everything they make. They make a very good rosé and they make a very good wine for ageing. This is their kind of regular red. Mmm, bring on the cassoulet.

The Society’s Corbières

The Society’s Corbières is next and is the flagship of the Languedoc range. Corbières is the best-known appellation in the Languedoc. It’s the one that The Wine Society has worked with for a very long time. It’s also quite a complex area with lots of different sort of terroirs, different villages that all have quite a different style. We buy ours from a village called Boutenac, which I think makes the best Corbières, and this comes from a grower called Pierre Bories, and his estate is called Ollieux-Romanis. Carignan is like in many ways is the number one grape variety, produces big, intense wines. So, this is The Society’s Corbières. Again, this is not made for keeping 20 years, this is made for immediate drinking. It’s mostly carignan, there is some grenache as well and it should be really quite delicious, real fruit, slight sort of tarry, extremely ripe because of the vintage, quite alcoholic actually but with food no problem at all. The Society’s Corbières, excellent and great value for money.

Fitou Bertrand Bergé

I’m still in the Corbières. The Corbières are an extraordinary area of lowish mountains, secret valleys, and desert-like landscape, quite extraordinary. A landscape dotted around with abbeys and castles, reflecting a very turbulent history. Right in the south of the Corbières is an area that’s been demarcated with its own appellations since the 1940’s and it’s called Fitou. And Fitou is a real sort of mountain wine which ought to be as famous as Priorat in Catalonia. Again, carignan is the main grape variety with syrah and grenache. A big, always a big full-bodied wine, very concentrated, very dark in colour, and Fitou can age extremely well. So, this is one we buy, he’s called Jérome Bertrand, who’s a very good grower, we buy from others as well, but I think he makes a really good, authentic style of Fitou, which I shall now open and share with you. You’ll see as I’m pouring this out the colour, which is really very dark, very concentrated, a wonderful plummy nose. Huge and smack-full of fruit, absolutely brilliant. So, these are my six Languedoc reds. 

Languedoc Roussillon

Where do we start in a region so huge? With production nearly three times that of Bordeaux, or more than the whole of Australia, the Languedoc-Roussillon accounts for about a third of all French wine made. The sheer scale of production and the intense competition to channel such volumes through to the market means that in most years supply is greater than demand so prices are kept in check. It is not for nothing that wines from the South of France offer such great value for money. Here you get what you pay for. The trick is to get beyond the gain line and tap into a rich vein of almost endless vinous pleasure.

Appellation Contrôlée and Vin de Pays (also known as IGP – Indication Geographique Protegée) - officially, these are two quite different wine worlds that live side by side almost, seemingly, in complete ignorance of each other's existence. Luckily, reality is different and most producers see no conflict between the two and many produce wines under both codes. Nor is one...
Where do we start in a region so huge? With production nearly three times that of Bordeaux, or more than the whole of Australia, the Languedoc-Roussillon accounts for about a third of all French wine made. The sheer scale of production and the intense competition to channel such volumes through to the market means that in most years supply is greater than demand so prices are kept in check. It is not for nothing that wines from the South of France offer such great value for money. Here you get what you pay for. The trick is to get beyond the gain line and tap into a rich vein of almost endless vinous pleasure.

Appellation Contrôlée and Vin de Pays (also known as IGP – Indication Geographique Protegée) - officially, these are two quite different wine worlds that live side by side almost, seemingly, in complete ignorance of each other's existence. Luckily, reality is different and most producers see no conflict between the two and many produce wines under both codes. Nor is one necessarily better than the other. Indeed many of Languedoc's most iconic wines, such as Mas de Daumas Gassac and Grange des Pères, are Vin de Pays. So why the difference? The status of Appellation Contrôlée was gradually conferred to the historic heartlands of Languedoc-Roussillon, in other words those sites in the foothills of the Massif Central and Pyrenees where viticulture has existed since the Romans. Appellation status is also about taste and about wine made from a narrow selection of mostly Mediterranean grape varieties.

Vin de Pays (IGP) was introduced to improve the quality of what was then the mass of 'vins ordinaries'. It confers an identity to wines coming from those areas that were planted during the big periods of expansion, mostly in the plain between Narbonne and Pézenas. It allows for higher yields than AC, and, more importantly, allows a much wider palette of grape varieties for the growers to choose from.

In terms of grape varieties Languedoc-Roussillon is France's answer to the New World. In the duality of Appellation Contrôlée and Vin de Pays, the conformism of Parisian bureaucracy goes hand in hand with the creative spirit of pure liberalism. So in terms of grape variety, almost anything goes! Native Languedoc and Roussillon varieties are at the heart of all appellation wines. With a changing climate and a tendency to extremes of weather, these ancient varieties are gaining favour.

Carignan is the workhorse of Languedoc especially in the drier west. At its best, it produces a wine that is deeply coloured, quite tannic, sappy with brambly fruit. Many producers have woken up to the qualities of carignan if it is treated with respect and low yields are achieved.

Grenache produces round tasting wines, often with low tannin and high alcohol and is rarely to be found on its own except in the fortified reds of Roussillon.

Cinsault belongs in the heat of North Africa. In the South of France, it is widely grown and can add fragrance and lightness of touch to big brawny reds, but more often it is made into rosé.

Like carignan, the native whites are more obviously associated with high production but with careful handling can produce wines of real interest. There is maccabeu and grenache blanc, grown mostly in Corbières and Roussillon. Clairette, grown mostly in the east, closer to the Rhône. Terret is grown extensively around Marsseillan, home of French vermouth. Maybe the best of all is the piquepoul which east of Beziers produces good quaffing dry picpoul de Pinet. Muscat used to be grown exclusively for vin doux naturel such as Saint Jean de Minervois and Rivesaltes but also produces full-flavoured dry wines of some interest.

The biggest change in the South of France was the introduction of other grape varieties to help boost quality. For the reds, syrah was the most obvious import and is now widely planted and is usually part of a blend with grenache and/or carignan. Syrah is at its best where there is a little humidity such as in the east around Pic Saint Loup. Mourvèdre is much more complicated to grow but has a real future in areas close to the sea such as in parts of Fitou and Corbières.

For the whites, roussanne and marsanne have also journeyed south from the Rhône to add finesse and flavour to Mediterranean blends. Increasingly, the Corsican vermentino, also known as rolle, can be found in blends where it often has a positive influence.

Bordeaux has for long been an important connection for the Languedoc with the Canal du Midi there to prove the link. Not surprisingly, Languedoc producers were quick to introduce Bordeaux varieties in their vineyards. Merlot is the most widely planted and in some years has been very profitably exported in bulk to California or back to Bordeaux. The later ripening cabernets are probably better suited to the climate of the south and have great potential.

Another revolution across the South of France has been in the quality of the whites. Before new standards of cellar hygiene and refrigeration were introduced, the concept of a fresh, dry and fruity Languedoc-Roussillon white wine was nigh impossible. Growers like Pierre Bésinet at Domaine du Bosc and Louis-Marie Teisserenc at Domaine de l'Arjolle were quick to spot the potential and successfully plant chardonnay, sauvignon and even the mysterious viognier.

Regional Styles

Languedoc-Roussillon is such a large region that it is impossible to generalise about the entirety. It helps to divide it into three main sections: Eastern Languedoc, Western Languedoc, and Southern Lanuedoc.

The east includes excellent appellations like Faugères, Côteaux du Languedoc, Pic saint Loup and Montpeyroux. The style of wine produced here is often Rhône-like: generous, thickly textured and often high in alcohol. Syrah is the outstanding grape variety and it blends well with grenache and sometimes mourvèdre. Nothing remains static in Languedoc and the old Côteaux du Languedoc is about to be replaced by a new appellation called simply Languedoc.

Western Languedoc is more dramatic, mountainous, and much drier than the east, but it's also colder and the austerity of its climate and topography can be tasted in its wines. The carignan grape is often an essential element in many of the reds. Look out for saint-Chinian, Minervois and Saint Jean de Minervois (the latter for muscat based sweet vin doux naturel), Cabardès, Limoux (especially sparkling Crémant de Limoux).

The south incorporates Corbières, Fitou and Roussillon. These are dry, hot regions surrounded by mountains which provide a majestic backdrop. Fitou is the oldest Appellation and confusingly comes in two parts. The best wines though come from in between in what is actually southern Corbières.

Corbières is the largest single appellation in Languedoc, with myriad different styles from different soils and microclimates. This veritable chaos of crags, gorges, strewn with castles, wild herbs and abandoned abbeys encapsulates the heart of the Midi. The wines all have a little of that wildness and wonder.

In Roussillon black schists on the north bank of the Agly make the best reds. These are typically fine and spicy with grenache and syrah. Traditionally the best-exposed sights near the village of Maury have produced sweet fortified wine. High mountains provide the opportunity to plant vines at higher altitudes and make fresher wines. Finally, this vast region ends in a narrow strip of land between mountain and the sea and with Spain on two sides. Twisting lanes and vertiginous vine terraces link the little ports of Collioure, Banyuls and Cerbère. The fortified wines are sold as Banyuls and are mostly Grenache-based with a little carignan. The Collioure appellation is for expressive, full-bodied and refined table wine which can be made from several grape varieties: carignan, syrah, grenache, mourvèdre and counoise for the reds and grenache, roussanne and vermentino for the whites.
Read more

Château La Dournie

Château La Dournie has been in the same family form some six generations and was founded in 1870. It covers about 30 hectares in the north of Saint-Chinian on light soils composed mainly of decayed schists.

All varieties normally associated with Saint-Chinian are planted here with one or two Bordelais interlopers which are used for their very attractive vin de Pays.

The Society has bought La Dournie in the past when as with so many fine estates, it came under the umbrella of Val d'Orbieu, a co-operative-based group and at one time a leading force in the Languedoc revival. Much has happened since with the production based on more sustainable farming practices and quality very much on the up and we now buy direct.

Languedoc-Roussillon Vintage 2018

The weather offered a mixed bag of conditions for growers to deal with in 2018, but those with the requisite skills, and with whom we deal, have made excellent wines from fruit that proved to be very good when harvest time came around, and in unexpected volumes too.

2018 vintage reviews

Recommended for you

Back to top